Legends and traditions associate the idea of founding Pushkinsky Dom with the 100th anniversary of Pushkin in 1899. Along with this the foundation of such an institution, according to a correct opinion of its historian, an author of a historic essays book «Pushkinsky Dom» (1980, 1988) V.N.Baskakov, appeared as a «natural result of Russian culture and science historic development». Timeliness typical for the processes of Pushkinsky Dom creation was caused by the circumstance that Pushkin’s 100th anniversary fell on the very end of the XIX century and the jubilee of the great poet was conceived as an event which symbolically completed the history of Russian literature in general. Russian literature of the XIX century - started by Pushkin - approached the chronological border on crossing which it became not only a monument to «vek minuvshy» («the previous century»), but also national classics, wealth of Russian spiritual experience gaining super-historic meaning. The time came when the legacy of the past was being inherited by the descendants, a period of archival and museum collecting, of academic conservation of cultural memory...
The century which produced classic Russian literature - the assumed object of Pushkinsky Dom collecting and scientific works - involved bloom and decay of Russian national and historical life forms. Monarchy, Orthodox religion and Church, national existential and moral culture and patriarchal family connected with it - all these traditional elements of Russian XIX century history originating from mediaeval sources, reached the culmination point of their development. The functioning of fundamental national and historic archaic and the simultaneous impetuous increase of many-sided civilization and spiritual culture of new-European type formed a unique combination of creational energy in Russian history of the XIX century. In 1919 in a special moment of catastrophic collapse of old Russia I.A.Bunin, a writer and a civilian, who was brought up in the traditions of the XIX century culture and who passed it in the XX century, expressed his feelings of this loss in the book «Okayannye Dni»: «Our children and grandchildren won’t even be able to imagine the Russia we used to live in before (only yesterday actually), the Russia we didn’t appreciate and didn’t understand - all this mightiness, heterogeneity, richness, happiness...». This Bunin’s note reflects a summary national notion of natures and scales of the Russian world in its classic century not less than nostalgically marked social partiality.
The history of the XIX century as it follows from the mentioned writer’s diary was in its major part a history of Russian revolution. The prosperity of national life and the crisis of its foundations scarcely formed a united evolutionary process. The fact that revolutionary movements of the XIX century came to life at the peaks of national development, after historic triumphs of the country, is a tragic pattern of Russian history. The Patriotic War of 1812 and the national raising that it caused created social conditions in which the organizations of noblemen revolutionaries-Decembrists were formed. A struggle around the reforms of Alexander II and first of all around the peasant reform of 1861 which liberated a many million agricultural class, pointed out in the head of social process an opposition group of activated «raznochinetz»-representatives, revolutionary democrats who appeared as the predecessors of future even more radical movements: “narodnichestvo” (from a word «narod» - people, nation) and social democracy.
It is literature where we find the most trustworthy, full, sensible and valuable reflection of Russian common and individual life in the XIX century.
Within the limits of Russian literary development of the century there were all main currents of art, genre forms, ideal and creational systems known to European New Age literary culture. In lyric and especially in dramatic works by the writers of the first decades, elements of enlightenment art conceptions, traditions of classicism were often used. Sentimentalism creational preferences and early pre-romantic currents co-existed and developed synchronically. Since the 1810s Russian literature had become romantic for almost three centuries, simultaneously increasing its features of variety, mutability, national authenticity, topicality. In the 1820s already the ways of realistic transformation of art were discovered inside romanticism, although realism would gain dominant position only in the 1840s. It was realism and its main genre - a novel - that the main discoveries and accomplishments of Russian literary classics would be linked with. These accomplishments were marked with a radical extension of the circle of subjects and images studied by the art, with special features of literary figurativeness - both generalizing and detailing - and a new view of human as an existential category closely communicating with historic epoch and socio-cultural sphere, the opportunities of analytic depicting of psychological, moral and intellectual interiors of human individuality. At the end of the century the signs of decay within the features of classical realism and predictions about newest literature, the first currents of modernism appeared. No century in the history of national culture disposed such a universal creational outlook, such an intense and bright spectrum as the XIX century.
Exceptional, almost surplus richness of XIX century literature, poetic and narrative, lyric and epic, elite and mass, fictional and critical/publicist, scientific and religious, abundance which predominated over all the other sorts of creation and made Russian culture «literature-centric», can be most of all explained by the fact that forming the literature was realized as one of the national aims, as completing the spiritual mission of Russia. Only this firmness of purpose could generate a whole group of great writers in such a short period of time. «... All of these masters and geniuses appeared at once, they extended their hands to each other, the circles of their lives crossed in many aspects», as rather puzzled Thomas Mann, one of the outstanding Western admirers and adepts of Russian classics, noted in his essays «Russian Anthology» (1921), where he also called Russian literature «the top word art in both hemispheres».
The cultural heritage of Russian XIX century literature - manuscript collections, card indexes and library units, image and memorial relics - constitute a basis of historic and literary collections of Pushkinsky Dom, a source-studying foundation of its research practice.
The Manuscript Department of the Institute holds collections of autographs and stores personal funds of: A.S.Pushkin (7,749 units of issue, 1,773 autographs), V.A.Zhukovsky (769 units), K.N.Batyushkov (79 units), Y.A.Baratynsky (986 units), K.F.Ryleev (158 units), M.Y.Lermontov (468 units), N.V.Gogol (218 units), S.T., K.S. and I.S.Aksakov (2,438 units), V.I.Dal (296 units), N.A.Nekrasov (212 units), I.S.Turgenev (109 units), A.N.Ostrovsky (255 units), A.A.Fet (78 units), Y.P. Polonsky (2,870 units), M.E.Saltykov-Schedrin (2,139 units), F.M.Dostoevsky (1,447 units), N. S. Leskov (168 units), V.M.Garshin (274 units). Some units did not form separate funds but included important documents of manuscript materials collection belonging to A.S.Griboedov, V.G.Belinsky, A.V.Koltsov, F.I.Tyutchev, I.A.Goncharov, and A.P.Chekhov.
Historic and literary materials of special value are accumulated in the funds of «second-rate» men of letters, critics, journalists, publishers, historians of literature, bibliophiles-collectors. Among the largest manuscript collections of this group are the funds of P.A.Pletnev, brothers A.I. and N.I.Turgenev, D.N.Bludov, A.V.Nikitenko, F.A. and A.F.Koni, M.N.Longinova, M.M.Stasyulevich, A.S.Suvorin, Y.K.Grot, P.V.Bykov, M.I.Semevsky, S.A.Vengerov, I.A.Shlyapkin, E.A.Lyatsky, A.F.Onegin, P.A.Shchegolev and others. A special part of Pushkinsky Dom archives - a substantial one as well - is constituted with 46 funds of magazines editorials, publishing-houses and coteries; which is: archival legacy of Volnoe Obshchestvo Lyubitelei Rossiiskoi Slovesnosti (1816-1825), Literature Fund (1859-1860, 1870-1921), magazines «Sovremennik» (1847-1866), «Russkaya Starina» (1870-1917; documents of XVI-XIX centuries, «Russkoe Bogatstvo» (1880-1918), «Russkaya Mysl» (1884-1918).
Manuscript collections are joined with unique and irreplaceable source-studying aids: a collection of Russian writers’, scientists’ and social figures’ official lists (3,157 units), as well as directories, biographical and bibliographical manuals, card indexes made by pioneers of humanitarian studies at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. The most remarkable of them is S.A.Vengerov’s card index - uniting two million cards with data on 80 thousand figures of Russian history and culture, with bibliography in many ways covering the XIX century press. Besides, there is also a famous card index of B.L.Modzalevsky, a various data code of the Russian society of the XIX century, 1st half, and people making up this society. This card index is supplemented with the neighboring ones - of V.I.Saitov (40 thousand cards) and L.B.Modzalevsky (20 thousand cards).
The scientific library of Pushkinsky Dom, which disposes 700 thousand print volumes, is one of the best branch libraries in Russia. The history of XIX century literature is represented with books and magazine complexes, as well as collections of extracts from periodical press, albums and convolutes - will all variety of forms of publishing, collecting and bibliophile activity. The book funds gain their special value and cultural and historical significance not in the least due to the personal libraries, fully or partly joined with them, of A.S.Pushkin, V.A.Zhukovsky, P.A.Pletnev, A. N.Maikov, Y.P.Polonsky, A.N.Ostrovsky, I.S.Turgenev, F.M.Dostoevsky, and N.S.Leskov. Memorial features and highest academic advantages are united in the book collections of outstanding philologists: S.A.Vengerov, P.A.Efremov, S.D.Balukhaty, A.S.Orlov, V.V.Vinogradov, V.M.Zhirmunsky, and N.K.Piksanov. A typical feature of the scientists’ personal libraries is their rarities and topical selections of literature. For instance, Griboedov collection in the private library of N.K.Piksanov includes all Russian and foreign editions of works by Griboedov, all literature about the writer and 50 handwritten copies of his comedy «Gore ot Uma».
In the years of Pushkinsky Dom forming library legacy of the writers arrived there together with collections of image and iconographic materials, historic household items connected with the memory of a writer. Later on the profiles of the library and the Literature Museum separated. The most important sources of the Museum expositions of the Institute were Pushkin Museum of Alexandrovsky Lyceum (1917), Lermontov Museum of Nikolayevskoie Cavalry College (1917), «Pushkiniana» of A.F.Onegin (1928), donations made by the heirs of I.A.Goncharov, Y.P.Polonsky, A.N.Ostrovsky, including a large number of personal things of the writers and furniture items (all of the 1920s), Aksakov memorial room of Samara (1929), Nekrasov Museum of Leningrad district library (1930), Petersburg’s Tolstoy Museum (1931), many other museum and exhibition complexes, state and private collections. The originals of A.S.Pushkin’s, M.Y.Lermontov’s and N.V.Gogol’s life images; paint and graphics by M.Y.Lermontov; a hair lock and the posthumous mask of I.S.Turgenev; writing-desks of A.N.Ostrovsky and I.A.Goncharov; a series of photos of L.N.Tolstoy and his family in Yasnaya Polyana, painted and sculptural portraits of L.N.Tolstoy by I.E.Repin, N.N.Ge, P.P.Trubetskoi, L.O.Pasternak; life editions of works by Chekhov with his inscriptions - all these items constitute materialized history of Russian classical literature and a small part of 300 thousand precious relics, stored in the Literature Museum of Pushkinsky Dom.
Y. M. Prozorov